The rules of the road seem pretty standard. But they can change based on the season. Snow and ice are added factors for drivers in the winter, but what about snow plows?
The cardinal rule when you encounter a plow on the road is, give it some space. Nick Schirripa is a communications representative for the Michigan Department of Transportation. He said if you are going to follow a plow, make sure to leave 6 to10 car lengths between you and the other vehicle.
“In some cases, plows also, while plowing, are putting material down. Whether that’s if they’re plowing they’ve got the cloud around it, or if they are putting material down there may be a bounce and scatter of rock salt, or some kind of blow-back or bouncing onto vehicles,” Schirripa said. Give it some room, right? You don’t want to be right behind it. You don’t want that stuff on your car. So give it a nice wide berth. Hang back 100 yards or so. Don’t follow too close, rule number one. Match the speed, remembering that plows move slower than most traffiic out on the road.”
Driving in winter conditions often means keeping at a slower speed. This is especially true for snow plows. Schirripa said they may be traveling ten to thirty miles below the posted speed limit. If you must pass, he said the same rule applies, don’t crowd the plow.
“In every instance, if a plow is plowing, the safest place to be is behind the plow. The road ahead of the plow hasn’t been cleared yet,” Schirripa said. “If you are going to pass be safe. Leave as much room as possible, don’t dawdle. Obviously growing up in Michigan we’ve all learned not to be in blind spots, especially with big commercial trucks. These are no different. These are large heavy machines. It takes a long time for them to stop and change direction. So don’t be in a blind spot, give them plenty of room. If you are going to pass, pass. Do so safely. Do so smoothly. Try to do it in one motion and get where you need to be.
Both MDOT and the Michigan State Police encourage drivers to follow the state’s basic speed law and drive according to current conditions. That could mean slowing down.
Check out the following links for more helpful winter driving tips.